Chapter 1 CHAPTER 1
AH, SUMMER IN THE VILLAGE… You can practically smell the sweet scent of grass and wildflowers. Of horses and hay and freshly baked cookies. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Boys and girls, young and old, are flying kites. All is well in the village. And why shouldn’t it be? So far these villagers have managed to avoid a horde of hungry, cheese-eating rats during their annual cheese festival; celebrate their 150th birthday with only a momentary loss of power; and not get swept away by the flooding river and strong winds during a sudden spring storm.
How did they survive all of these things? I’m glad you asked. Why, the Junior Monster Scouts, of course! Those Junior Monster Scouts are always in the right place at the right time, aren’t they? And speaking of Junior Monster Scouts… where are they?
Let’s take a look, shall we?
Wolfy raced ahead of his cub brothers and sisters. Wolfy’s dad, Wolf Man, hurled a stick over their heads.
“And… fetch!” Wolf Man said.
Fetch was Wolfy’s favorite game. He loved running as fast as he could, jumping over logs and rocks and fences, and getting that stick. Dad said he was the fastest!
“No fair!” said Wolfy’s little sister Fern. “You always get the stick!”
“One of these days, I’ll bet you catch me!” Wolfy said.
The rest of the cubs tumbled around Wolfy’s feet, howling and barking.
Meanwhile, way up at the top of the castle tower, Vampyra gazed out her bedroom window.
“Vampyra!” Aunt Belladonna called. “Are you brushing your fangs?”
“You have to keep them shiny and pointy!” said Aunt Hemlock.
“Don’t forget to floss!” Aunt Moonflower added.
Vampyra groaned and trudged back to her sink. How many times did she have to brush her fangs?
“Until they’re done right!” Aunt Hemlock called up from the library.
“Reading my mind isn’t fair!” said Vampyra. She stuck her toothbrush in her mouth and scowled.
Franky put the collar on his new puppy, attached her leash, and wound her up.
“Good girl!” he said. “Want to go for a walk?”
Sprocket wagged her tail. She was very excited.
“Woof!” she said. “Woof! Woof!”
Franky patted her on the head and started down the Crooked Trail. He was so excited to have a new puppy. He and his dad had made her all by themselves in Doctor Frankenstein’s laboratory. Even his cousin Igor Junior had helped.
And while Franky and Sprocket walked and whistled down the Crooked Trail, while Wolfy played fetch, while Vampyra brushed her fangs again, and while the villagers flew kites and watched clouds, someone else was up and about. Someone with big, black, bushy eyebrows. Someone with a permanent scowl. Someone with the initials B. V. G.
Do you know who it is?
Of course you do. It was none other than Baron Von Grump.
He paced his little balcony, wringing his hands and watching the winding road that led to his crooked windmill.
“Where is it?” he asked. “It should be here this morning.”
“Caw?” asked Edgar, his pet crow.
“I’m glad you asked,” said Baron Von Grump. He smiled an oily, sneaky smile. The kind of smile a snake might make before it bit you. The kind of smile that makes you think someone is up to no good. “I’m waiting for a very special delivery. I have a little surprise in store for these kite-flying, cloud-gazing villagers. Every single time I try to get some peace and quiet, they have to ruin it with their noisome fun! But not this time. This time I have just the thing.…”
He peered down the road. An old truck bounced and clattered toward him.
“Ah! Here it comes now!”
Oh boy, you and I know that whatever is in that truck is not good for the villagers, because nothing involving Baron Von Grump is ever good! I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what it is.